Wednesday, 19 September 2012 16:16
BEIJING: China's leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping on Wednesday held his first talks with a foreign official since vanishing from the public eye nearly two weeks ago, telling US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta he wanted to advance ties with the United States.
Vice-President Xi's disappearance had prompted widespread rumours that he was ill or worse ahead of this year's five-yearly Communist Party Congress when he is expected to be named party chief.
Asked if he had learned why Xi had been out of view for some time, Panetta referred the question to the Chinese government but added: "Frankly, my impression was that he was very healthy and very engaged."
He said their scheduled 45-minute meeting had run over by more than half an hour, in part because the vice president "was very much engaged in the discussion" and wanted to raise a range of bilateral strategic issues facing the two countries.
"I believe that your visit ...